Child Trafficking in Ireland highlighted as MECPATHS launches e-learning platform on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
To coincide with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on Friday, 30th July, MECPATHS is pleased to officially launch an online e-learning platform which aims to educate a range of industries on how to identify and report suspicions of human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, in their sector.
Established in 2013, MECPATHS is the only non-profit organisation in the Republic of Ireland which raises awareness of the presence of child trafficking activity in Ireland, specifically educating and advocating for the protection of children from trafficking for exploitation through identification and reporting.
As the only non-profit in Ireland which works in partnership with the Hospitality Industry and Services Sectors to prevent Child Trafficking, through their new interactive online learning platform, MECPATHS will enhance existing protective measures. Working in direct partnership with, and providing training to Hotel Groups and Hospitality providers; industry bodies such as the Private Security Authority, airline staff and frontline professionals; as well as Hospitality Training Colleges, Universities, and private industries, MECPATHS is now in a position to provide remote learning which will raise further awareness and help to protect children from exploitation.
Speaking at the launch of MECPATHS’ e-learning platform, Ann Mara, Education Manager, MECPATHS said “It is critical that people are aware that the illegal activity of child trafficking for exploitation is happening in Ireland; and that specific industries are the most likely to bear witness to it. For example, Hospitality Industry staff are amongst those most likely to encounter a victim of child trafficking as traffickers can take advantage of the privacy and anonymity that hotels and accommodation providers offer. Our new e-learning platform will educate people on what child trafficking is, the identifiable signs that may indicate a child is or has been trafficked, and the mechanisms available to report a concern or case of child trafficking.”
In 2021, The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) advised that “Ireland is not screening for victims of Child Trafficking”; and Ireland is one of just two European countries which has been named on a “tier two” watchlist, the third lowest of four rankings, by the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, due to inadequate responses taken to tackle human trafficking.
Commenting on this, JP O’Sullivan, Network and Communication Manager, MECPATHS said “In the Irish context, in 2020 38 people were identified as having been trafficked, 26 in trafficking for sexual exploitation and 12 for labour exploitation, yet no children were identified, at a time of heightened vulnerability for so many already vulnerable children. In 2019 however, 42 were identified, 9 of which were children. 2020 was the fourth consecutive year of decreasing victim identification and saw the fewest victims identified since 2013. These findings do not add up, and the prevalence of human trafficking in Ireland is likely much higher than the official statistics report. This necessitates the work of MECPATHS, which raises awareness that child trafficking does indeed exist here. Our message in relation to child trafficking is ‘Know it, see it, say it’, and our e-learning platform can help to educate people nationwide on how to do this”.
Since its foundation, MECPATHS has worked closely with the Hospitality Industry to deliver free-of-charge workshops on trafficking, to support hotels in their efforts to ensure the safeguarding and protection of all; and has proudly partnered with many leading hotel brands including PREM Group, Dalata, Trigon Hotel Group and The Gleneagle Hotel Group, along with a wide-range of independent and family-owned hotels.
Speaking at the launch of the e-learning platform, Sarah Marr, Group Human Resources Manager, PREM Group, Ireland and UK said “The more awareness there is of this social problem, the more progress can be made in dismantling this multi-billion criminal industry. Through remote learning, all our team members in Ireland will continue to be educated on the signs that could be an indication of child trafficking taking place and, most importantly, they will know how to report their suspicions.”
MECPATHS invites companies to get in touch at [email protected] if they would like to learn more about the free-of-charge e-learning workshops. If you have any concerns relating to child trafficking, or would like to find out more, visit www.mecpaths.com.